Another year separated from the Denver Broncos Super Bowl 50 and a second defensive leader is parting ways with a once legendary unit. After John Elway dealt Aquib Talib to the Rams for a 5th round pick, it became even more obvious that they’re clearing space for an expensive free agent quarterback. I hate it. Not only did the Broncos send a productive DB packing, they’re slowly but surely eroding a defensive dynasty. Since Denver hoisted the Lombardi trophy two seasons ago, they’ve said farewell to the likes of Malik Jackson, Sylvester Williams and Danny Trevathan; all lost to free agency. Demarcus Ware retired, TJ Ward released before last season and Talib recently traded. Oh yea and their fearless leader in Wade Phillips is gone too. That’s over half of the SB starting defense. I know, I know; it’s common for SB teams to lose studs to free agency but couple that with losing their overall captain in Peyton Manning, the Broncos don’t look much like they did when they won football’s ultimate prize.
Obviously, not all of those defenders were world beaters, but Ward and Talib above all represented what this teams defensive unit was all about. Nasty, ruthless and talented. Sure they committed some idiotic penalties and took plays a little too far but that was what made Denver so good at playing defense. They had attitude. Von Miller is the best defensive player in the NFL but come on, he’s a nice guy that loves to dance. Wolfe is a bad boy but he’s only on the field so much due to his unfortunate injuries. Harris is sound as is Roby but none of those guys carry that swagger, that unrelenting style like Ware and Talib.
Elway took pride in stacking his Defense. In fact, he focused so much of his efforts on the D, fans wondered if the hall of fame QB knew how to build an offense similar to the one he led to two SB’s in the 90’s. With Manning on board, Elway didn’t need to get cute in the draft or free agency as the Sheriff made everyone around him better including the Duke. But when Manning’s age settled in it was the defense of Talib, Ware, Miller and Harris Jr. that carried the Broncos to its third SB. Now, it’s as if Elway and the front office forgot all about that as they prepare for Kirk Cousins or any big name free agent. I realize that QB play over the last two years has been below average but so has the entire offensive unit. I would have liked to see the Broncos stay firm with who they had on D and maybe keep building late in the draft. Most of you that listen to The Hull Show or read these Deep Thoughts know where I am on a QB for the Broncos so I will spare you for one night at least. I will just say that Denver shouldn’t try to tweak that D but instead build the O-line and simply construct an offense that can give the defense a rest on the sidelines.
Talib had 11 INT’s, 6 pick 6’s and 4 pro bowl appearances in all four of his seasons in Denver. Yes he might have lost half a step but he’s still a top 10 corner in the NFL. He was a spark plug and a captain. Was he a knucklehead at times? Certainly. But his antics didn’t outweigh his production on the field. Was this trade a sign of things to come for the Broncos? Will they now shift their focus to building an elite offense at the risk of downgrading their once feared defense? I fear the dynasty talk in Denver is slipping away and we have Mr. Elway to thank for that.